Tagaytay Hotel: Taal Vista Hotel

Over the last half a decade or so, development over the Tagaytay ridge has been aggressive.  Sometimes, leaving behind the atmosphere and nostalgic experience that Tagaytay use to be. But there are things that has thankfully there are places that seem to have stood still in time that you can always go back to and relieve the Tagaytay that you or parents knew on their younger years, the Taal Vista Hotel

 

 sweet welcome confectionery  

Built during the 1930’s president Quezon ordered Manila Hotel Company to buy a parcel of land from to be developed as a destination for rest and relaxation. By the 1939 construction of the Taal Vista Lodge commence and was soon completed and inaugurated by the same year. Today the same establishment is now known as the Taal Vista Hotel has retained much of its old world charm, bringing you back to the pristine Tagaytay that people knew about.

As I entered the lobby, I was warmly greeted by everyone at their front desk. The lobby was classy yet not that intimidating giving that homey feel like how it was at grandma’s place.

After checking in, I was lead to my room passing through a corridor adorned with memories of the hotel’s colorful history. The secondary lobby opened up to a beautiful veranda, albeit filled with fog because of the weather.

Also Read Travel Guide: 1 Day Tagaytay Itinerary

 

The Food

My first night’s dinner was the Veranda restaurant. Their menu is collection of cuisines that are familiar from my travels around Southeast Asia and beyond. I asked about how much is a serving good for and was told that it was for one. However, I don’t eat much so I guess a couple can share the food that I ordered, hahaha! I indulged my self starting with the Chef’s salad which is a medley of crisp and fresh vegetables tossed in a special vinaigrette. I love the subtlety of the dressing allowing the fresh flavors of the salad become the dish’s feature.  My main dish was a Nasi Goreng. The Nasi’s flavor reminded me of the *insert Street Name* colorful food scene. The tenderly flavored beef seem to have just transported me back to Malaysia. It was everything I remember. Like they say always leave room for dessert. But no, I made room for dessert. The Brazo de Mercedes was just exquisite, it felt like they know how I wanted my food. The cake wasn’t too sweet just enough for you to appreciate heaven.

 Chef’s Salad

My last dinner was hosted by the hotel’s Taza restaurant. I was sat down in a table and was asked if wanted something to drink while waiting for my food. I asked if they have juices or tea (which they do) but I pushed a little further. See I rarely drink sodas and powdered drinks, so I asked i those were either house brewed ice tea or real fruit juices. Dinner started appropriately with some soup followed by some appetizers. The main star of the night’s dinner table was the Tomahawk Rib Eye. The meat was just heavenly to chew on and cooked to perfection. The juice from the steak was just so full of flavor.

After an entire full 8 course dinning experience, I spoke with the restaurant manager and learned that their meat are locally sourced to as far as Bukidnon for the best ingredients. Something that I feel needs to be commended in a world where everything is flooded by cheap imported goods.

The Room

 

The room booked for me was a premier room at the Lake View wing of the property. The sight of a gorgeous bed was a welcome site for me. Having traveled from the northern part of the metro all the way to the south was a challenge. But after all that hassle, the warm embrace of the comforter and the soft hugs of the bed made it all worth it.

The suite is well appointed with wood furnishing. But the true test for me in any good hotel is the bathroom, and I was not disappointed. The huge bathroom has separate showers and toilet and a good mirror between them. Water pressure was awesome, unlike some hotels where you just want to beg for more water to come out, Taal Vista’s water pressure was just right. The toilet is equipped with a bidet, that’s an extra point no need to touch you tushy.

 

I appreciate that the room smelled clean. I mean yes of course hotels should smell clean but do they most of the time? Though the Taal Vista Hotel was built in the 1930’s the management actually closed it down for a couple of years and had it renovated and restored to its original architecture during the early 2000’s. The furniture are all updated to a modern taste and yes it doesn’t smell mold like any other old hotels. The room also had a big TV that kept me entertained with cable programming. I don’t really watch TV but it helped a lot keep me updated since there was a storm that time and I couldn’t really walk outside of the property.

 

The View

This here deserves a separate insight. Probably the best thing about mornings in Taal Vista Hotel was waking up to an unbelievable view. You know that feeling when you watch movies where the character starts his or her day? They pour in their coffee and open up this huge glass panel door, walks right into their veranda and breathes in the cool crisp air while looking into that awesome view as they drink their coffee? That feeling! I couldn’t just get my self to close that window. My bed was near the huge glass doors and I just spent so much time lounging at the bed, working on my laptop and just giving that view a glimpse form time to time. It was all the motivation I needed to work that day.

The room has a veranda that could have been perfect to spend your afternoons at. If not for the strong winds and occasional rains I would have ordered my self a pot of brewed coffee and just admire that picturesque view.

 

 

The Taal Vista Hotel Property

If you have ever passed by Taal Vista Hotel’s area, you might have the notion that the property’s area is a bit small. Well that was my impression before, at least. However passed the main building and this hill (which was actually a wall) that separates areas of the property. I walked around and explored the property a bit further.

The Gym

I’m not a fitness freak, but I do try to get some exercise. I just don’t want to gain those pounds again (#paranoid) and it was a good thing that Taal Vista Hotel has gym with ample equipment that you can use to burn those extra fat. Though it was raining and foggy outside, I appreciate that they air conditioning was still on. See when you burn more fats when you work out in a cold environment. This is because your body uses more energy to heat up your self and perform its functions. Now that’s one good fitness tip for you 😉

The Pool

I’m not quite sure if the pool is heated or not, but i tried to take a dip on that gloomy day and the water was just perfect. I admit that I am quite squeamish with cold pools, but the water was just fine! It is also notable that the pool is hidden from plain sight from the public areas. Remember that hill looking wall? This is what was behind it. The pool also has an on duty life guard so kids are safe, still of course don’t leave minors unattended.

Sky Ranch

If you are staying in Taal Vista Hotel, you can also gain special access to the Sky Ranch theme park. The hotel has a special access to the theme park so there is no need to go out and walk on road side. This is also great since your room is easily accessible from the park. May also ask for a special rate for the park.

My Goodbyes

 

 

On my last day just before I check out of the property, I asked for a cup of coffee. It was a good cup. The bitterness just strikes my palate at the right spots with notes of rubbery goodness. Everything that I am looking for in cup of coffee while I gaze at the incredible view of the Taal Volcano one last time. The Taal Vista doesn’t just offer a room for everyone. It offers an opportunity to travel back in time and feel how it was back in the days when the ridge was uncrowded through its wide open spaces facing the lake.

If you have just one day and couldn’t stay, I’d say give the spot a few hours, buy a cup of coffee and just stare at the amazing view of the Taal Lake. Slow down a bit and feel the beauty of life at Taal Vista Hotel. 

Liwliwa Hostel: Limbonis Hideout

The newest and possibly the most backpacker friendly the Limbonis Hideout is a a hostel found and built by a traveler himself. This Liwliwa hostel offers private and dorm accommodation.

What I Like About Limbonis Hideout

Aside from the fact that it was built by a backpacker for backpackers, here are a few more things that makes this place stand out.

The property is located on a corner lot bordered by a river backdrop with lush greenery. Each morning will just be just so calming with the birds chirping. Because this Liwliwa Hostel is located on a corer lot that means there are way lesser noisy neighbors g

Liwliwa Hostel

Being a widely traveled person the hostel truly exudes a travelers ambiance. The owner of this liwliwa hostel recreated some of the architecture that he has seen throughout his travels in Southeast Asia. Some of the structures resonate the vibes from Bali while some comes familiar as houses on stilts.

Liwliwa Hostel

Liwliwa Hostel

 

Liwliwa Hostel

 

liwliwa hostel

Liwliwa can be a tough cookie to break when it comes to getting cheap prices specially if you are a solo traveler. However, at the Hideout Liwliwa Hostel you will feel that you are very much welcome as a solo traveler. I have tried to search for a good price for Liwliwa Hostels before but the best one that I could get before was about Php 550 for a freaking hammock!

I also love Hideout Liwliwa Hostel’s coffee bar where you can ask for coffee made from different parts of southeast asia and the Philippines! While the beach is just five minute walk from the property, the two main stores are just about two minutes away by foot! For the adventurous type, if you are into surfing they have surfboards that you can rent. For novices, you can also ask for an instructor to help you take that first stance on the board!

If you like this liwliwa hostel or would like to know more details you can check them out through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Review: Best Priced Hotels Via Traveloka

As backpackers we are always in the search for the best priced accommodation without  compromising value for our hard earned money. Each one of us may have downloaded every travel app there is on the planet comparing prices to save on every cent that we can.  Then comes this killer travel app, Traveloka!

Things I love about this App

What I like about the Traveloka App itself is that the controls that matter most – Filter, Sort and Map- are easily accessible all the time at the bottom of app while searching. It allows me to customize the results of my hotel search result allowing me to set my budget range, type of accommodation, services available (because wifi is now a basic right ^_^ ) and a lot more!

It also features reviews from Tripadvisor, a reputable travel review site and not just an app subscriber review. What this means for you is that you get an accurate review as they come from a broader range of people and not limited to those who have booked from the app.

The best thing about this app is when I compared prices from other booking apps for hotels it just goes to show that Traveloka has the most competitive prices for Hotel searches! It also offers special discounts for people who sign up

Booking Through Traveloka 

Booking through Traveloka is really easy, let me walk you through.

Step 1: Download the Traveloka App on your mobile phone.

Step 2: Open the app and tap on the Hotel Button

Step 3: Fill in the details of your trip

Step 4: At this point you can sort and filter the search results to what customization you like.

Traveloka App

Step 5: Select a hotel that you would like to check. After tapping on a specific property, you will be taken to the hotel’s information page. Here, you can check out the reviews, prices, photos and the actual rates of the accommodation. You can also always go back to the list by tapping on the back button and check out other properties.

Traveloka App

 

Step 6: Once you have decided on what property to book, tap on the select button on the room that you would like to book then Check the details of your booking, make sure that everything is correct. Tap on continue to get to the Payment page.

Traveloka App

Step7: You can either use you credit card or select a payment partner to secure your booking. After selecting your desired payment mode you can proceed to the nearest payment partner like 7Eleven -how convenient right? – and pay the full amount. If you choose to pay via credit card, you will be given instant confirmation for you room!

Traveloka App

It is that easy! Traveloka is slowly replacing some of my travel apps on my phone and looks like by the rate that they are going, adding more and more properties on the list it is not impossible that I may not need other booking apps in the future. I highly suggest that you sign up so you can enjoy members exclusive deals that they email every week straight to you inbox!

Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Hostels aren’t that popular for Filipinos but I think one must try staying at this hostel called Bugoy’s Biker Bed and breakfast. Hotels tend to provide canned customer service of some sort like they smile all the time and everything but experiencing real personal customer service is something that one can only experience when the people who own the accommodation actually attend to your need.

I booked Bugoy’s Bed and Breakfast six months ahead of the festival, honestly I had hesitations with it because the location doesn’t seem to be at the center of Cebu and the place looked like it was an old house. Though admittedly, the owners does say it is thus prohibiting smoking inside the accommodation.

Cebu Hostel
But I guess, I was wrong, Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast is just a 15 minute ride away from where the Sinulog action is. It is also conveniently located near JY mall where I was able to find a travel agency that helped me book a ferry to escape the rain in Cebu to Boracay. It is also walking distance to the market, supermarket, fastfood and cheap eateries where I often eat.

The best thing I like about Bugoy’s Bikers Bed and Breakfast is the owner’s personal touch of service. They are really honest and would make sure that you are comfortable. Jens with his wife who owns the B&B will attend and tour you around the property informing you of everything that you need to know.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

I also admire their honesty. I really appreciate the fact that they are very transparent and fair with their prices. I booked through a certain website that gave me a different price which was 25% more of what other guests are paying for. I gaveRenz the amount stated on the website as I checked then she pulled at the back of the property and insisted on giving me back the excess of the price that I was suppose to pay. If that is not enough honesty and integrity, what more can I say? I mean that is money for them already and that is not even cheating or anything since that is the price that I signed up for but she gave it back to me because it was not right. I am really impressed.

They also provide free water and brewed coffee which is awesome, specially for digital nomads like me who need s caffeine to keep our bloods running ^_^. They also serve continental breakfast which is awesome and helpful when it was terribly raining because we didn’t have to go out and find food.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Most of the people who stay there are westerners and I was able to speak with one of the owners who quite sad about locals (people from the country) who book at their hostels and just don’t show up, mostly because they are expecting of some sort of hotel like accommodation. I just hope that Filipinos could open up and actually try staying in hostels and get to know more people.

Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast definitely delivers exceptional service. It has nothing like the luxurious amenities of a hotel but it has more than what you can experience more than a hotel.

It is also worth mentioning that Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and breakfast can be one of the few accomodations that does hostels right. Some accommodations would label them selves as hostels only because they offer dorms of accomodation below the standards of a hotel, but that is not what hostels are all about. Hostels are about meeting new people and keeping accomodations low.

In general, I would highly recommend Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast because of their excellent personal service and hospitality.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Note: this post is the sole opinion of the author who is not associated with the hostel in anyway. If you are booking for Sinulog make sure that you book at least 6 months ahead.

Pagudpud Travel Guide: Itinerary and Expenses

The north of Luzon offers a diverse option on how to spend your holidays and one of the best way to lazy around is just bum around the beach, and Saud Beach in Ilocos is the perfect place to do such. However, why not maximize your stay at the northern region of Luzon and explore it’s unique tourist attractions.

Here’s a sample itinerary for you in exploring the Ilocos region in one go.

itininerary ilocos

Download The Ilocos Backpacking Itinerary